Define "elite" and "pro-gay," please

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, responding to Steve Schmidt's call for the GOP to drop its opposition to gay rights:

AMBINDER: I know that there are many Republicans who support gay rights, and that most members of the Republican elite are pro-gay, and that the business wing of the party could care less about the issue. ... But I also know that the possibility that the Republican coalition will find some way to organize itself without social conservatives is a ways of a way off. Schmidt's concerns may be valid, but urging the GOP top adopt a tolerance platform WITHOUT figuring out how to declamp itself from the social conservative hook -- that's not terribly realistic. That's why so many Republican strategists, even as they're sympathetic to gay rights (and virtually ALL of them are), don't advise their clients to so much as acknowledge the dignity of gay people."

According to Marc Ambinder, "virtually ALL" Republican strategists are "sympathetic to gay rights," and "most members" of the Republican "elite" are actually "pro-gay." And yet they don't advise their clients to even "acknowledge the dignity of gay people." And they participate in campaigns that do pretty much the opposite of acknowledging the dignity of gay people.

It seems to me that some definitions are in order here. Who exactly are the "elite" Ambinder is talking about? Elected officials? Donors? Consultants and campaign workers? And what does Marc Ambinder think it means to be "pro-gay"? Based on the context, it seems he thinks it means "privately feeling badly about publicly participating in the denigration of and denial of rights for gay people." That doesn't seem very "pro-gay," though, and Ambinder should explain and defend his use of that phrasing.

See, at some point in the not-so-distant future, the GOP is going to start claiming it likes gay people just fine, and all that discrimination stuff was a loooong time ago. It is going to try to whitewash its history of anti-gay policies and rhetoric. We've seen this happen with other demographic groups the Republicans no longer finds political advantage in explicitly attacking. Few people want to be seen as the last bigot standing in the schoolhouse door.

Reporters like Marc Ambinder shouldn't be in the business of helping that whitewashing along. They shouldn't do people the favor of insisting that they are "pro-gay" when they are actually participating in anti-gay campaigns and using anti-gay rhetoric. Not only does that help people avoid accountability for their positions, it delays progress. If silently feeling bad about denouncing gay marriage is accepted by the media as "pro-gay" behavior, gay people are going to have to wait a little longer for their legal rights than they otherwise would.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, LGBT
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.